BELGIUM - Belgian pension funds returned 3.8% for the first three months in 2004, according to Mercer Investment Consulting.
This compares with a return of 10% for 2003 and –5% for the first quarter of 2003. Willy Santermans, chief actuary at Mercer Belgium said: “The first quarter returns are very good and are in line with the returns achieved by pension funds in the previous three quarters. Pension funds are now coming out of the huge decline seen in returns during 2000-2002.”
In Q1 2004, Japanese equities posted the highest returns of 18.7%, while emerging markets equities came second place at 10.5%. Pacific, excluding Japan and mixed equities also posted solid returns of 9.5%. Total equities returns were at 4.9%.
Short-term bonds were at bottom place, returning only 0.4%. Total bonds returns were at 2.8%.
Asset allocation among pension funds remained largely unchanged from the previous quarter with Japanese equities rising marginally to 2.7% from 1.9% in the previous quarter. Total equities inched up to 52.4% in Q1 2004 from 51.2% in the previous quarter. Bonds were relatively unchanged at 41%, compared to 40.6% previously.
“There has been very little change in the asset allocation of pension funds. The increased exposure to Japanese equities is logical considering the performance of this asset class in the last quarter,” said Santermans.
He added that from preliminary figures garnered, returns for the second quarter were 0%.
“We don’t have a very clear idea yet, but from what we can glean, equities have posted slightly positive returns while bonds have returned negatively,” he said.
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